"If I never heard another sermon, this one would suffice to meditate on for the rest of my life." That is what I wrote in my little red moleskin journal last Sunday morning at Wood Green Evangelical Church in Worcester.
As soon as Pastor Paul Mallard started preaching, I started writing. I am so glad that God had me in that place, at that time, so that I could both be blessed by the message he shared, and could pass it on here. I will share it in two or more parts.
The sermon was on Jesus's prayer, recorded in John 17. I encourage you to grab a Bible and follow along.
The prayer is broken down as follows:
Verses 1-5 For himself prior to the cross
Verses 6-19 For his disciples; 11 frightened men
Verses 20-26 Jesus literally prays for US!
At this point (when Jesus prayed the prayer,) to all intents and purposes, the Church was over. But that is not what Jesus knew (verse 20.)
Verses 20-23 are a prayer for unity:
20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:11 (New International Version)
11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.
- Jesus had a passion for unity:
- He prayed for it
- It is what he came for
- What he longs for
Every single letter written in the New Testament has something to say about unity, e.g. the book of Philippians--Paul writes: "Make my joy complete by being united."
If we had the mind of Christ we would not have disunity in any church. The Holy Spirit will not bless you if you are divided.
The book of Ephesians lists 15 things to "put off"(see Ephesians 4:21-32) and 8 of them are about relationship (discord; gossip; anger etc.)
Talk to missionaries--the biggest single cultural hazard faced, is not danger or spiritual warfare--it's your fellow missionaries.
The only person who delights in a divided church is the devil.
Unity is possible or Jesus would not have prayed for it!
That is all for this post, friends. I will continue on Monday.
I leave you with a song that my friend Janet Sketchley, posted on her blog, God With Us: Finding Joy. I love it and it fits so perfectly with this message.